When you got a dog, you knew you’d be responsible for them. If you haven’t been walking your dog, the difference it makes will impress you, and once they’ve been around the block with you, they won’t let you forget when it’s time to go out. It’s good for you. It’s great for your dog. Ideally, you’ll want to walk your dog twice per day, but even one walk per day has great mutual benefits. Shutter Hound Pet Photography presents some tips to help your dog stay in great shape.

Get your steps in

There’s a reason Fitbits are popular — walking is a very good exercise. You burn calories but it’s easy on the joints and you probably won’t have to shower immediately afterwards. It’s good for everyone of all ages to get out of the house and take in the neighborhood. You’ll notice all the things you miss when you drive by, and your dog will be taking in the smells.

Your dog really needs to get out

Your dog uses the walk to meet various needs such as burning off energy, exploring, sniffing around, socializing, or spending some quality time with his favorite human. For the dog that loves to run, explore, and sniff every single bush, you might find that your dog’s desire to investigate leaves him straining against the leash.

Exercise is especially important for dogs that live in apartments, as opportunities to run and play may not be as readily available. Of course, some apartment buildings are more dog-friendly than others, which could be a reason to find a new place to hang your hat. Websites like Rent.com can help you find a new place, one that’s perfect for you and your dog.

Use the walk for training

Spend some time training your dog on the proper way to walk while on a leash, and enroll them in obedience school if you need help. While a retractable leash seems like the way to go, it puts your pooch in control and rewards him for pulling, which is the opposite of what you want. Should a fellow canine or human approach unexpectedly, your dog may be too far ahead of you to be able to effectively reel them in. Once your dog is properly trained, you can step off the sidewalk and explore local hiking trails, beaches, and dog parks.

You can socialize too

Dogs are natural pack animals, although it might not seem like it if your pooch gets anxious around dogs and humans. While social by nature, it is important that you encourage and nurture a positive relationship with dogs and humans alike. Not only will your pooch enjoy the social opportunity, but it will make walks that much more enjoyable.

When you’re out you’ll run into other dog walkers, joggers, bikers, and neighbors. A little wave or a “hello” may not seem like much, but you’ll get used to seeing each other, and pretty soon you’ll know a little about each other. Most dogs love meeting new people too.

If your dog isn’t used to being around others, start with a relaxed environment such as a one-on-one meetup or a play date with a friend. Concerts, festivals, and dog parks are not only overwhelming, but meant for dogs who are already socialized. If you notice that your dog is fearful or even aggressive, it is best to find a dog trainer to help you determine the reason for the behavior, and to work toward overcoming it.

Add a pack member

Walking a dog twice per day means getting up earlier, and doing one more thing before you can take care of dinner and finally relax for the night. It may be that two walks per day isn’t really feasible for you. If you can get one in, that’s definitely better than nothing, and for less athletic breeds, it’s enough.

But you may want to consider a dog walker or a doggy daycare if you’ve got long hours away from home Monday through Friday. A doggy daycare will take a little more planning and is likely to cost a little more, but your dog will be able to socialize all day, with a walk generally part of the service. A dog walker will come to you, and they can help you train, encouraging positive behaviors while they’re with your dog.

A little exercise and a little socialization once or twice per day is so good for you and your dog. Afterwards, you can relax together with dinner and a movie.

Shutter Hound Pet Photography can take great pictures of your dog that you can cherish for a lifetime. Learn more about services by calling 309-306-1513.

Thank you to Cindy Aldridge of Our Dog Friends for this guest post!